Egypt is expected to announce international tenders in April for its own orbiting satellite as part of a major expansion of its TV spacecasting over the coming few years.

Four specialized firms and consortiums are prequalified for bidding on the estimated $200 million project called Nilesat, according to the Ministry of Information.

Invited bidders are Hughes Space & Communications Intl., Martin-Marietta, Aerospatiale and Matra-Marconi. The project will include one satellite in orbit, one in reserve and two ground stations in Egypt.

Nilesat is envisaged as a joint venture between the state-run Egyptian Radio & Television Union (ERTU) and private investors, with lift off planned for late 1997. The state broadcaster will hold 51% of the shares in the venture with the remainder by private investors.

ERTU, affiliated with the information ministry, is the Mideast’s largest producer of Arabic-lingo TV entertainment programs.

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